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United States of America map Source: Shutterstock.

States possess what are called “reserved powers.” These are political powers that are neither prohibited nor explicitly given by law to any institution of government. According to the Tenth Amendment in the United States Constitution, states have the right to govern themselves, in squishy legally-defining terms, in areas that the federal government doesn’t have time to deal with because it’s impractical for the federal government institution to enforce every little thing states do. It’s like a mutually agreed upon way of doing business: You do your thing and I’ll do mine, and if there’s a problem, I’ll let you know.

All sides of the political parties invoke the marching orders of states’ rights when federal law clashes against some kind of ideological goal of politicians. Sometimes the voters jump into the argument, but many examples I’ve read about involve politicians raising some version of hell when they feel like the federal government has gone too far or not far enough on whatever issue appears to be important at the moment.

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Michael Ogden

Editor-in-Chief for CU Times.

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